If your child is falling behind in school, figuring out why can feel overwhelming. Is it the teacher? Is it because he or she is in the wrong placement? Is getting distracted? Needs intervention? Has a learning disability?
Chances are, you’ve asked yourself these questions (and more). But this isn’t helping you know what steps to take. What you really need is to break down what’s happening and why in order to know how to help.
First, schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher(s) or IEP team.
The first step in identifying why your child is falling behind in school is to schedule a meeting with his or her teacher(s). If your child has more than one, try to focus on the core classes or CC them in an email thread to try to coordinate a shared time. If your child has an IEP, request an IEP meeting to get the team in one room. (This also includes outside services: speech, OT, etc.)
Your child’s teachers will have the most updated information and observations on your child’s learning. They should also be able to provide reports on your child’s levels and goals (if applicable). Do try to request these in advance, if possible.
If your child doesn’t have an IEP or 504 Plan, a meeting will give you a frame of reference on whether or not your child could qualify for special education services as well.
This could also be one of the underlying reasons why he or she is behind.
Record observations at home – positive and negative.
Regardless of whether or not your child receives special education services, it’s smart to come to your meeting prepared with observations of what you see and experience at home.
If your child is in outside services with a therapist or tutor, for example, come with their reports in hand as well. This will be helpful to identify any discrepancies in what’s being observed. It can also help to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses, and what’s working or not.
Listen to your child’s concerns and thoughts on what’s happening.
Don’t neglect your child’s thoughts and perspectives! He or she will definitely have a voice and even though this might not directly impact his/her learning program, it’s important to consider (especially if you’re considering a change of placement, services, or goals).
Ask your child how he or she feels about the learning, the instruction, the pace, and the current grades. Getting your child’s insight will also help you see any attitude problems and may even help you troubleshoot conflicts before they begin.
Schedule an observation.
If possible, try to schedule an observation of your child in the classes he/she struggles the most. This will give you a taste of what your child experiences. It will also help you to have more information on your child in different environments.
Observations can also give you a stronger voice in meetings with teachers or your IEP team, as you’ve seen, firsthand, what’s happening.
Consider an outside report, assessment, or evaluation.
If your child is falling behind, it’s important to consider an outside evaluation.
At Banyan Tree Educational Services, we offer assessments and evaluations that identify struggles your child may face. We start with the foundational skills and assess for any issues with distractibility, attention, comprehension, executive functions, and more. We also look for any learning disabilities that may be undiagnosed and inhibiting your child’s ability to feel successful.
If you’re interested in scheduling an evaluation with us, use this form or give us a call at (858) 367-5428.